Monday, December 19, 2011

Domesticity - Part II


Previously on this blog, I’ve written about my struggles with all things domestic—most specifically about my struggles with cooking and cleaning. I blame my lack of interest and aptitude for these domestic activities on two things: feminism and my overly cushy childhood.

Feminism made me believe that cooking and cleaning were traps: If a woman so much as made a batch of cookies, she’d thenceforth end up barefoot, pregnant, and in an apron for all eternity. So, as you can imagine, my fear of such an outcome made me give the kitchen a seriously wide berth. As I got out on my own and held a job, I also realized that I could buy my way out of domestic chores I didn’t want to do. Burritos were cheap. Thai restaurants sprouted like coffee shops on every street corner in Seattle. And, if I ate out with friends, there would be no dirty dishes nor grimy pots and pans at home that would need cleaning. It was genius.

My overly cushy childhood is the other reason for the fact that I am just getting the knack for many aspects of domesticity now at age 44.  I was a spoiled child. I was the first of my mother’s three children, and she spoiled all of us. But I took to being spoiled in ways my sisters never did. It all started in the morning. My mom says I always woke with a smile on my face, and why wouldn’t I; I was about to start another day of being doted upon by my overly awesome, loving mother. Once my sleepy eyes started to focus on the day, my mother would head to my closet and hold up outfits. I—still lounging in bed—would say yay or nay to each possible ensemble. Once my little royal self selected an outfit for the day, my mother would spread out my underwear; socks or tights; skirt, dress, or slacks; turtleneck, shirt, and or sweater combo on the end of my bed, and then she would head off to wake my sisters and fix breakfast—all while I fell back to sleep. Why my mother didn’t open up my glass-sliding door and kick my keister out into the snow on certain cold and snowy mornings, I’ll never know. Though she claims that despite being woefully spoiled, I was always an agreeable child. But, then, why wouldn’t I be? I had it better than most real royal children.

Even as I got older—and slightly better at dressing myself—I still failed to pick up skills such as laundry sorting or ironing. My mom did the laundry the entire time I lived at home. Dirty laundry mystically disappeared and somehow found its way back—ironed and or folded—into my drawers and closet. At one point, we lived in a house in New Hampshire, and some years later we were discussing the layout of the house. Somehow the laundry room was mentioned, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember that the house had even had a laundry room. My mother, father, and sisters rolled around laughing and couldn’t believe that I didn’t know where the laundry room had been. In my defense, I only lived there for about a year.

Anyway, lately, since I lost my corporate job and Brian has been the only member of our household going off to an office each morning, I have been trying to get better at the cooking aspect of domesticity. It seemed to me that since I have actually found a mate who knows far better than to ever expect domestic chores out of me, I could—of my own volition—spend a little extra effort on making us salads and dinners to keep our expenses down while I’m between gigs. And, much to my surprise, the cooking thing has become kind of fun. I’ve especially enjoyed baking, and over the past couple of months, I’ve baked biscuits, muffins, pies, and more biscuits. I’ve also made turkey (not perfectly cooked), mashed potatoes, beef stew, American Chop Suey (not sure where we get that name), and Lisa’s crazy chicken stir-fry. I’ve also made lots of salads—something I always used to hate making—and have actually come to enjoy having a brightly colored salad with dinner every night. I do realize the absurdity of coming to recognize what other people have known for ages now that I am comfortably into my forties. All I can say is that in many respects, I’ve been a late bloomer.

So, here in the present, the cooking thing is coming along. I’m still no wiz in the kitchen, but Brian and I have been eating quite well. The cleaning thing, however, is still elusive. And today, it is December 19th, and in less than one week, Brian will have some time off from work. I would really LOVE for our little rented house to look warm, cozy, and reasonably tidy for the holidays; however, it currently looks like the aftermath of a police raid. The upstairs is mid-project. Actually, there are two projects going on up here. The first is a giant purge of all clothing that doesn’t have a place in my future, which means that there are piles and Rubbermaid tubs of clothing all over the place. The other project is operation holiday, which, of course, involves wrapping paper, tape, and elves. A huge part of me wants to buck the wrapping trend. I know it is resource intensive and wasteful, and I’d like to get onboard with the idea of wrapping presents in scraps of fabric that later get made into quilts. But here I am complaining that I can’t keep my house clean—what are the odds of me following through on the fabric-wrapping to hand-sewn-quilt expedition? If I get there by retirement, I’ll honestly be thrilled with myself.

So, here I am writing a blog post instead of delving into the disaster that awaits me downstairs. You see, since the little fixer-upper in Maine turned into the little future-tear-down-project in Maine, we’ve emptied out and winterized the little hovel to cut expenses. So, all of the junk from up there has now migrated down here and has added to the existing clutter. I honestly don’t know where to begin. We know we need to pare down. We need to get rid of more stuff, but each and every decision that needs to be made sends me into a fit of procrastination. I pick up an item and ask myself whether or not it has a place in our future. When I can’t answer the question, I move on to the next item, and after I’ve done this several times, I decide to go work on some writing or play a game or scrabble.

But, it’s now or never. If I don’t start on picking up the house, it will be a wreck all through the holidays, which will really hamper my enjoyment of Brian’s time off.  So, wish me luck! And, if you have any secrets for cleaning up a messy house or for staying on task, please do share; however, keep in mind that I’m genetically predisposed to taking on more than I can handle (e.g. the little project in Maine), so I will likely always be faced with self-created chaos—all in the name of pursuing my dreams.

Disclaimer: There is no Part I to this post, but I have discussed domestic things in several other posts.

Please do tell me how you embrace domesticity and organization; these are areas of true challenge for me. 

11 comments:

  1. Fabric scraps that later get made into quilts? Oh yeah, that's gonna happen.

    Gift bags are my friends. Gift bags are quick, easy, and endlessly recyclable. All you need is extra tie-on tags.

    For me, timers help getting me to focus. 55 minutes on - then I can sit down and read the next chapter of my current book, or two blog posts, or whatever. Then back to work - with the timer. Or I will work while playing a holiday album on my iPod. - no break until it is complete.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Beverly,
    I know! I love the IDEA of the fabric scraps being turned into a quilt, but at some point, we all have to be realistic. For me, that ain't gonna happen anytime this decade--or next.

    I like your suggestion of using a timer. I too have to make deals with myself. I try to withhold rewards (reading, writing, scrabble, etc.), but lately, I've not been as strict with myself as in the past. But, the timer is non-negociable; I like that, and I'm going to give it a try!

    Thanks for stopping by! I'm reading your blog too! Take care!

    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  3. That should have been "non-negotiable." I need to edit my comments!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like the idea of a timer, too. It's so easy to get caught up in the fun stuff. My sister really got into the Fly Lady years ago. She swore by it:
    http://flylady.net/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Kelly,

    I'll check that out! Oh, and I just read your post about building a house of straw! Sounds very cool! I'll be eager to learn more.

    All the best!
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  6. Getting rid of superfluous 'stuff' is so important. I have in-laws that spend thousands of dollars a year on a storage unit while working a low paying retail job to afford to keep their crap in storage.

    I told my neighbor to beat me up if he ever hears that I'm about to rent a storage unit. I have a 3000 sq ft house with a two car garage. If I ever think I need a storage unit somebody better keel-haul me or something to get some sense into me.

    The less stuff you have, the more of your resources and time you can put towards enjoying your present and future. If people ever feel the need to give you gifts, ask for (in this order) cash, gift cards, or the gift of an experience (like a cooking class!) Experiences can't clutter up your downstairs. In the summer, have a yard sale, and anything that doesn't sell, DONATE!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Dan,
    Yes! We are on the quest to get rid of STUFF!!! I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

    All the best!
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hope the holidays treated you well. Looking forward to more blog posts!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The best uncluttered time of my life was spent in a staffer home in Turkey, where nothing there was mine and there was very little of it. I couldn't help thinking about the total freedom that comes with no possessions. Nothing to take care of, keep track of, keep clean, or safe. Nothing to haul around, nothing to demand my time. Dusting surfaces (four of them) and keeping order in the fridge followed making the bed and the rest of the day was mine. I am, at this stage of my life, hell-bent on freedom from stuff. GoodWill, The Vets, my church, etc., are all recipients of what I once thought was worth keeping. Stuff is now unwelcome. Toughest separation is the books I no longer read. Sending them on to a library/second hand store/clubhouse/coffeehouse/ is a challenge, but one I am meeting.....to make room for more books. Bought a 10 volume set of the Classics, intact, for 59 dollars. Yeah, like I'm gonna read 'em......dont' even know where I'm gonna put 'em.....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Spinster Jane,
    Happy New Year! I have had a brief blogging hiatus (left comment on your blog), but I hope to be back at it soon!
    All the best!
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  11. Barbarann,
    You are so right. I've always been so happy when I've been backpacking because all I need for the week or the weekend is on my back. There is nothing else to worry about. I am working on getting rid of stuff now too. I have a couple of bags for Goodwill, and I have passed a few things on to new owners via Ebay and Craigslist, and I will keep on forging ahead with trying to simplify!!!!

    Happy New Year!!!! I'll be back in touch again soon!

    Lisa

    ReplyDelete

Popular Posts